Party Food and Safety

by blackspanielgallery

Party food is often out for a period of time. Make certain the food is safe when eaten. There are items available to help with this.

Do you ever think of party food and safety? Of the three things you might consider when planning food for a party, it is the most important.

Party food must be something people can consume while having a casual conversation. The exception, of course, is a dinner party. Finger food is often the center of a party. Small items that can be held, or placed on a toothpick, work really well. The other main form of party food is desserts.

Not only what you serve, but how it is presented, is important. The food must be made to look attractive.

While it might seem to many that the above two ideas of great hors d’oeuvres and a pleasant presentation are enough, there is another consideration that is the most important. Food must be kept at the proper temperature. Hot food must remain hot, and cold food must remain cold. This is critical at a gathering where people can lose track of how long food has been out, so temperature control is essential.

And it is not just temperature that is required for safety. People must be able to properly handle the food. And they must know what is in the food.

Choosing Party Food

Hors D’oeuvres and More

One can make simple hors d’oeuvres, but what should be chosen?  Well, some that are simple are fried, such as oysters, shrimp, or even fish.  If fish is used the pieces must be small. 


Miniature muffalettas are a great choice.  These are small sandwiches consisting of provolone cheese, genoa salami, ham, and olive salad.  They are usually heated to melt the cheese.  I believe this is a dish from New Orleans, so many readers may not have tried them.  A small, round bun is essential. 


Artichoke balls make another excellent bite size hors d’oeuvre. 


Stuffed eggs where boiled eggs are cut in half, and the yoke is removed to be used to make a tasty filling that is then used as a stuffing for the half egg whites is yet another popular idea.


Miniature meatballs in tomato sauce works well.  These are usually eaten using picks.


Of course, you must have finger sandwiches as a staple.  These can be sandwiches of whatever meat you wish, or of egg, chicken, or tuna salad.


If boiled shrimp are served you would do best to have the ones with the shells removed. 


Potato or corn chips is also widely used.  If you do this a good dip can pair well.


Cheese trays work well if you include some sort of party crackers.


Fruit and vegetable trays are important if some of the guests wish to eat healthy food, or if there are vegetarians.


The list could be quite long.  I recommend a cookbook on party foods for ideas.  Whether you actually prepare the dishes or purchase them ready to serve is unimportant, a cookbook can give you an idea if what to procure.

Keep Hot Food Hot

How Do You Keep Food Hot for Serving?

Hot food can be kept hot using chafing dishes.  These are pans that are covered except when someone is removing food from them.  They are kept warm from below.  Chafing dishes come in a variety of styles for different foods.


Each food in each chafing dish, or in each part of a chafing dish, requires the proper utensil for serving it.  The exception is dishes of a food that is picked using a pick, such as miniature meatballs. Option.


Warming trays are another option.  These are shown after the dessert section.

Cold Food Must Be Kept Cold

How Do You Keep Food Cold for Serving?

Cold food trays and bowls with ice held below the food now exist in a variety of sizes and designs.  They can be used to protect a wide variety of food requiring cold temperatures.  Proper temperature for cold food is also important.  People can be vigilant of hot food temperatures, but they sometimes neglect cold food.  Safety requires cold food also be kept at the proper temperature.

Know Food Temperature


Have a food thermometer available to periodically check food temperature for any dish that has a critical need.  Do use a different thermometer, or properly clean the one you use, for each different food checked.  This avoids problems for people with allergies for certain foods.

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Desserts can be served on a nice serving tray.  The one below will be a good conversation starter.  In general, desserts are kept at room temperature, but there are exceptions.  This is especially true if there is a filling that must be kept cold.  Furthermore, it may be a matter of taste.  Some desserts taste much better cold, or even hot.  A fruit filled turnover should be served hot.  For hot desserts a chafing dish might not work.  A nice electric tray can keep a dessert warm enough to be enjoyed.  For those desserts not requiring a certain temperature a simple tray is fine.


The trays shown below can be used for more than desserts.  Choose the style and depth for the food and event.  The problem with electric warming trays is accessibility to electricity.  The plus is the avoidance of an open flame.

Food Allergies

Label Food

Help your guests who have food allergies so they can know what is in a dish.  People can be allergic to a wide range of foods.  Shellfish, nuts, peanuts (which are not really nuts), and even strawberries are some examples.  Imagine a pastry with both strawberry and cherry fillings.  A guest has an allergy to strawberries, but that same person can do fine with cherries.  How can that person tell one filling from the other?  A simple label can solve the problem.

Avoid Food Contamination

People tend to reach for appetizers and their fingers brush other items on the tray.  Too many hands in a dish is asking for contamination.  Use serving utensils and picks to avoid this.  Multiple assortments of serving utensils are the economical way to have enough at a reasonable price.

This article contains links to affiliate programs and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


The introduction image is of our own Zazzle product,

Updated: 01/23/2020, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 04/26/2022

I doubt it. They are made of plastic that is too hard, n general.

DerdriuMarriner on 04/26/2022

Revisiting your wizzley caused me to recall that I had more to ask and that I hadn't thanked you for all the illustrative, pretty pictures.

In particular, I appreciate the Stainless Steel server within the acrylic ice bowl. It's attractive, effective and -- because it's possible to see ice-melt levels -- efficient.

Do you know whether disposable party supplies, such as picks and utensils, are eligible for recycling facilities?

blackspanielgallery on 04/07/2019

There is a food critic with a three hour, daily radio show. He also has a website devoted to food, with recipes. The large muffaletta is described at with an emphasis on the olive salad. The ones mentioned in the article are miniature, but quite good. The trick is to heat the special bun.

Veronica on 04/07/2019

We certainly don't have muffalettas over here, that's for sure. TY Wizzley being educational is Wizzley at its best.

blackspanielgallery on 04/07/2019

I suspected the muffalettas would be new to many. They taste so good I had to include them. They are server warm.

Mira on 04/07/2019

I hadn't heard of muffuletta and chafing trays. Thanks for this. Your choice of hors d'oeuvres is very appetizing!

blackspanielgallery on 04/01/2019

They are miniature sandwiches, and any hors d'oeuvres are also served. They do not make a full meal. They are about two to three bites, then they are gone.

DerdriuMarriner on 04/01/2019

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for the practical information and product lines. What would be other party food served with muffulettas?

blackspanielgallery on 03/30/2019

A chafing tray is a pan which holds water, and the food is in another pan that sets into it. A flame, usually Sterno is the fiel, is lit beneath the water. The pan with the water must be elevated by about 3 inch legs to accommodate the flame. I believe a hot plate is easier to control the temperature, but requires access to electricity.

Veronica on 03/30/2019

I have not heard of chafing trays , we would probably call them hot plates I think. I am really intrigued by these ice trays .

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